Thousands of striking workers blocked traffic in the centre of Athens on Thursday to mark rescheduled May Day celebrations and rally against planned labor reforms accelerated by the pandemic.
With the central slogan “No to Medieval working conditions, hands off the 8-hour day,” labour unions gathered at Klafthmonos Square and marched to Syntagma square.
Greece’s civil servants union ADEDY, which called a 24-hour strike to coincide with May Day celebrations, says the legislation seeks to raise the eight hour working day to 10 hours, abolish the five-day working week and collective agreements.
“[The bill] constitutes … a direct attack on employees and their rights … at a time when the country is in a deep health and economic crisis largely due to the choices of the government,” ADEDY said in a statement.
The government has rejected the claims, saying the changes aimed to increase flexibility for workers.
“Today is the first day of a strike against the anti-labor bill that the Minister of Labor and the government are preparing to bring to the Parliament for a vote….today’s grandiose gathering is a first response. We are not going to let these measures, which are to the detriment of the workers of our country, pass like this,” chairman of ADEDY, Dimitris Bratis told AMNA.
The rally was also attended by SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras and Secretary of MeRA25 Yanis Varoufakis.
ADEDY say they oppose the labor bill as it restricts employee rights at a time when workers risk job losses due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The protests also disrupted flights, public transport and ferry services.